JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Federal prosecutors want a Fulton woman to spend more than 17 years in prison for covering up the death of a man with disabilites.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri made its recommendation in Sherry Paulo's case. Prosecutors said Paulo "directed and coordinated" family members to hide from the public that Carl DeBrodie, a resident of a Fulton group home they worked at, had died sometime in 2016.
Fulton police found DeBrodie's body encased in concrete within a storage unit in April 2017, sparking a federal investigation. Paulo, along with Anthony R. Flores, lied to police when they said DeBrodie had gone missing that month. In reality, investigators say Paulo and Flores took DeBrodie out of Second Chance Homes in Fulton as his health began to worsen, and lied to Missouri health officials about his condition to continue to collect Medicaid reimbursement and avoid trouble.
The memo from Lucinda Woolery comes ahead of Paulo's sentencing on Sept. 1. Woolery called Paulo the matriarch of her family, and ordered Flores, her son Anthony R.K. Flores and her daughter Mary Paulo to hide DeBrodie. Woolery revealed the basement area where Paulo kept DeBrodie - a place Flores called a "'jail cell,'" according to the memo.
"Paulo’s treatment of C.D. exposed how she viewed him: as less than human; as someone whom she could allow to languish and then discard in a trash can," Woolery wrote. "Paulo acted from a position of near-absolute power over a victim who could neither advocate nor care for himself. She controlled what he ate, what medications he took, and whether he received treatment from a doctor."
Paulo's plea agreement set her sentencing range from 14 years to 17.5 years in prison, without a chance at parole. As part of the plea, Callaway County prosecutor Chris Wilson will drop state charges against her. Wilson confirmed this on Tuesday, saying the federal prosecution allows for a greater punishment than a state one.
"The federal criminal charges carry a far greater range of punishment than the state criminal charges and the federal prison sentences are not subject to release on parole," Wilson said.
Paulo's attorney, Chris Slusher, filed a sealed memo with the court on Tuesday. He declined to comment on his recommendation.
Woolery said DeBrodie began to lose weight in 2014. He and Paulo went to the doctor and received meal supplements for this, but Woolery said Paulo stopped giving him the supplements in 2015. She also stopped giving him certain medication. As the weight loss continued, Woolery said Paulo took DeBrodie and his housemate to her home, where they stayed in her basement.
Paulo and Flores apparently had differing accounts of DeBrodie's death. Each said they were home without the other when DeBrodie began "howling." Each said they were the ones, along with DeBrodie's housemate, to bring DeBrodie upstairs and put him under running water. When DeBrodie died there, both admitted that Paulo did not try to resuscitate DeBrodie or call an ambulance.
After several days in the bathtub, Paulo, both Flores men and the housemate put DeBrodie in the box, which was put inside a trash can and moved to Paulo's storage unit.
The court sealed memos in Anthony R. Flores' case. His plea agreement sets a range of 11 years and five months to 15 years and eight months.
The cause of DeBrodie's death remains undetermined, which Woolery blamed on the body's decomposition by the time they found him.
DeBrodie's family settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit with Second Chance Homes and Callaway County in 2018.